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The U Is Finally Getting a Sequel

Rejoice, University of Miami Hurricanes fans and local documentary aficionados: The U is getting an official sequel.
The original, which details the rise and fall of the University of Miami’s football program from the ’80s until the early ’90s, has become a sports doc cult hit and one of the most watched and talked-about documentaries aired on ESPN. Well, now the sports network has officially ordered The U: Part 2 and plans to air it later this year.
The original director and producer — Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman — the guys behind local documentary house Rakontur, will return for the sequel. In fact, filming has begun, with the crew having already sat down last week with the Dolphins’ Bryant McKinnie, a member of UM’s 2001 national championship team.

via @MiamiNewTimes​
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The U Is Finally Getting a Sequel

Rejoice, University of Miami Hurricanes fans and local documentary aficionados: The U is getting an official sequel.

The original, which details the rise and fall of the University of Miami’s football program from the ’80s until the early ’90s, has become a sports doc cult hit and one of the most watched and talked-about documentaries aired on ESPN. Well, now the sports network has officially ordered The U: Part 2 and plans to air it later this year.

The original director and producer — Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman — the guys behind local documentary house Rakontur, will return for the sequel. In fact, filming has begun, with the crew having already sat down last week with the Dolphins’ Bryant McKinnie, a member of UM’s 2001 national championship team.

via @MiamiNewTimes​

Miami’s media studio rakontur steps up their game with two new movies

via Miami Herald:

O Cinema's Kareem Tabsch, Miami's Hitchcock

via Miami New Times:

O’s 2012 celebration of the tenth anniversary of the film Cocaine Cowboys by the local filmmaking company Rakontur also stands out as a favorite event.

"We have a really amazing relationship with the Rakontur guys — Billy [Corben], Alfred [Spellman], and David [Cypkin]. They’re like extended family for us," Tabsch says. "The reunion we had, with Edna Buchanan and Mickey Munday, that was actually the first time all those people had ever been in the same room. What’s special about that for me is we’re celebrating Miami homegrown talent… Plus, it’s the amazing people. Edna Buchanan is a fucking legend. I was totally like a fanboy."

Miami Beach backs medical marijuana; is Florida next?

via Miami Herald:

In Miami Beach, the straw ballot question grew out of the making of the Square Grouper documentary by local production company Rakontur in 2010.

“With Miami Beach being a leader in progressive laws, we thought a decriminalization effort would be a good idea because it was happening around the country,” said Billy Corben, who founded Rakontur with Alfred Spellman.

They helped start a petition drive that was eventually taken over by the group Sensible Florida, which gathered about 8,000 voter signatures in an effort to stop Miami Beach police from jailing people with personal amounts of marijuana of 20 grams or less.

The City of Miami Beach balked at the initial proposal, the two sides negotiated and, eventually, Miami Beach put the nonbinding straw poll question limited to medical marijuana before voters.

VH1 Takes An In-Depth Look At How Hip-Hop Became A Dominant Force In American Culture With The Documentary Series "The Tanning Of America: One Nation Under Hip Hop"

Billy Corben Pioneers the 'Pop Doc' (Ocean Drive)

via Ocean Drive:

Our new ESPN 30 for 30 short COLLISION COURSE:

Don Aronow was a family man who moved to Miami in the ’60s after making a fortune in New Jersey construction, but soon his focus turned to building and racing cigarette boats. He became world famous, selling boats and fostering close relationships with some of the most powerful men in the world. But during that time in Miami, the people who needed Aronow’s products the most (and some of the only ones who could afford the hefty price tag) were drug smugglers. Aronow’s tale would end in a hail of bullets, leaving questions that still haven’t been answered.

rakontur’s Decade of Decadence

via Rene Rodriguez / Miami Herald:

Here is a most unusual kind of haven in Miami — one where the business of movies, the craft of filmmaking and the love of cinema all intersect. No wonder they want to keep the location quiet.

Here, too, is something you won’t find anywhere else in South Florida: A multimedia company with a decade’s worth of work that has earned national attention; several intriguing projects in the pipeline (including what is likely to be their most commercial film to date); and absolutely no plans to ever relocate.

The bond between Corben, Spellman and Cypkin — who are all 33, became friends at Highland Oaks Middle School, made their first short film in high school and co-founded rakontur in 2001 — has grown stronger with each of their successes.

“Billy and Alfred have a strong Miami sensibility: Their movies are very redolent of that city,” says Eamonn Bowles, president of Magnolia Pictures, which has distributed several of rakontur’s films theatrically and on DVD. “ Cocaine Cowboys did an amazing job of soaking up the color and culture and details of that era. But their greatest attribute is a nose for an interesting story. Every film they’ve done has had jaw-dropping aspects to it. They make you say ‘Whaaat?’ And they keep getting better as filmmakers. The leap from Raw Deal to Cocaine Cowboys was incredible, and they’ve only improved since then.”

Rakontur Teams Up With Pharrell For Adult Swim Show

Little Black Book: Bella Rose (Miami Herald)

via Miami Herald:

What: Bella Rose, 423 16th St., Miami Beach

Who goes: Lindsay Lohan — and we’re assuming her DJ galpal Samantha Ronson; Miami movie producer Alfred Spellman of rakontur (Cocaine Cowboys) is a part owner; and DJ Tom Laroc — doing his live video mixing Thursday nights — is a staple.

Vibe: The anti-South Beach. No shiny, glitzy furnishings. No guest list. No velvet rope. This small lounge feels like 2000s indie-kids took over a 1960s New York City bar.

Best night to go: Black Sundays, when you can hang out really late with the Cool Kids (we’re talking 4 a.m. on a school night!) and be part of their viral home movies, which reach their pinnacle with someone being killed. For fun, of course.

• Doors open at 11 p.m.

rakontur namechecked on the 50 Most Influential People in Miami list

image

The 50 Most Influential People in Miami

Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman: The Moviemakers

For all the politicians and well-meaning philanthropists on this list, none has the audacity to reveal as much about the city as Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman.

The filmmakers and Miami natives sent shockwaves through the 305 last fall with their critically acclaimed documentary Cocaine Cowboys, which traced the drug trafficking in Miami in the 1970s and ’80s. But it wasn’t just the warring drug lords or the sheer glee with which they rolled around in their cocaine and cash that made the tightly paced film so intriguing.

It was also the revelations that (like it or not) many of the high-rise buildings that fill the Miami skyline were funded with drug money, and that so much blood was spilled during these so-called “Cocaine Wars” that Time magazine once called the city “Paradise Lost.” Corben (who directs) and Spellman (who produces) received the Florida Film Critics Circle’s Golden Orange award for their efforts on this and Raw Deal: A Question of Consent, about a 1999 alleged rape at the University of Florida. That film won the duo a Special Jury Award at the Miami International Film Festival in 2002.

For a world that’s just as cutthroat but not quite as illegal — the nightclub scene — Corben and Spellman recently completely Clubland, which chronicles the opening of the Mokaï Lounge in South Beach. The team is currently in production on Cocaine Cowboys II: The Godmother Returns.

Casting a mirror on Miami is undoubtedly a trying yet intrinsically fun enterprise, as a sordid past (and present) full of sex, drugs, back-stabbing and more drugs can’t help but reveal unpleasant truths. The fact that we enjoy the spoils of such chaotic riches on a daily basis makes the steamy nastiness of it all even more enticing.

via Miami Sun Post

City Link 
February 7, 2007

Miami Splice: Local filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman document stories about the seedy side of Florida

By: Barbara Lester

Last fall, when Miami filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman released the feature-length documentary Cocaine Cowboys in theaters, bootleg copies of the film hit the streets almost immediately. Instead of running home and crying to their distributors, they took action.

They posted a short-film series, Streets of Miami: The “Cocaine Cowboys” Phenomenon, about the bootlegging phenomenon on YouTube. In the series, the filmmakers confront bootleggers at the Carol City Flea Market. They also talk about the movie, which focuses on Miami’s wild drug era of the mid-1970s, with a few of the Magic City’s biggest hip-hop stars, including Pitbull and Trick Daddy.

"Yo, you’ve got to see this movie," says Pitbull, after admitting he, like several of the interview subjects, watched an illegal copy of it. "If you ain’t seen Cocaine Cowboys, you don’t know nothing about Miami. It’s better than Scarface." Regardless how they saw it, these rappers readily agreed to promote the film on YouTube.

"I can’t walk up to the guy at the Carol City Flea Market, who paid $5 — of which thousands were sold, by the way — and say, ‘Give me my dollar,’ " says Corben, who directs the team’s films. "You have to devise a new business model. … Embrace your audience."

His producing partner agrees. “You can’t fight it. You have to accept the change,” says Spellman, who readily admits to downloading movies from BitTorrent, the free peer-to-peer file-sharing network. “Wayne Gretzky said, ‘I don’t skate to where the puck is; I skate to where the puck is going to be.’ You’re not going to roll things back. People are downloading movies on BitTorrent.”

Now that Cocaine Cowboys was officially — and legally — released on DVD Jan. 23, everyone can watch this fascinating documentary, which crystallizes Miami’s drug past with great perspective and thorough hindsight. Although they have made their names in film, the 28-year-olds, who have been working together on movie projects since they were in the ninth grade at Highland Oaks Middle School in North Miami Beach, think they have found a new approach for their latest project, a short-film series titled Clubland, and are embracing new media.

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